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Prevent Identity Theft: Protect Your Mail and Your Packages From Porch Pirates

About half of all identity crimes are the result of low-tech methods of identity theft — lost or stolen property. If your purse is stolen at the store, you know about it, but you might not know about somebody who steals your mail from your mailbox or swipes packages off your porch and then uses your personal information gleaned from those to commit an identity crime. As of December 16, 2019, mail theft is no longer just a federal offense: stealing a package from someone’s porch is now a punishable crime under Michigan law. First-time mail thieves can face fines and up to a year in jail — repeat offenders can face up to five years in prison.

There are a number of proactive steps you can take to protect yourself. The first is to be cautious with your mail:

  • Neither incoming nor outgoing mail should sit in your mailbox for an extended period of time.
  • If you are going to be away from home for days, suspend your mail delivery.
  • Don’t place paid bills in your mailbox for the carrier to pick up. Instead, drop them in a U.S. Postal Service box.

Another way to reduce your risk of identity theft from stolen mail is to opt-out of credit offers that arrive in your USPS mailbox. A thief who steals your mail can use the application to apply for credit in your name at his or her address.

To stop credit card offers, you can either go online or call 888-567-8688. You will need to provide your Social Security number to eliminate these offers, but since you are initiating the contact using information from a reliable source, it is safe.

See Your Daily Mail Delivery Online

The United States Postal Service offers a free service — Informed Delivery — that allows you to digitally preview your letter-sized mail daily and manage packages scheduled to arrive soon. You will have to create an online account and verify your identity, but then you can receive and view daily notices on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. You can track packages, leave delivery instructions, and reschedule delivery.

Guard Against Porch Pirates

  • Ship to an Amazon Locker, Fed Ex office or your office, if allowed.
  • Keep your porch well lit.
  • Make it look like you are home (leave on lights, music, etc.).
  • Install a motion detector or front porch camera that you can monitor online or receive notices if there is movement.

If you have a general consumer complaint, you may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection team:

Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form